Monday, May 3, 2010


Florencio Campomanes, FIDE President from 1982 to 1995, passed away 1:30 pm today, 3rd May in Baguio City, Philippines after a bout with cancer. He was 83. Below is a tribute to Florencio Campomanes.

Campomanes Legacy to World Chess

By Casto Abundo

Dedicated to Florencio Campomanes, who passed away May 3rd

(Ed’s note: Casto Abundo was FIDE General Secretary and Executive Director under Campomanes from 1987.)

Graduating cum laude from the University of the Philippines in 1948, Florencio Campomanes was among the first Fulbright Scholars from the Philippines and was taking his Masters Degree in Political Science from Brown University and Doctoral Studies in Georgetown University, both in America, when he heard of the World Chess Federation. It was auspicious that his thesis was on the nascent United Nations.

Campo was a habitué at the Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs. He was exposed to organized chess and on his return to Manila co-founded the Philippine Chess Federation and affiliated with FIDE in 1956.

It was also in New York that he first met a rising young Congressman named Ferdinand Marcos. They were elbowing each other at a Times Square Filipino restaurant to meet a young lady doctor from Manila. She became Campo’s first wife and years later when Marcos became President, Campo would wonder if he recalled the incident.

Campo was a Political Science lecturer at the University of the Philippines when he decided to lead a team to the 1956 Chess Olympiad in Moscow, USSR. The Philippines had no diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war and he was discouraged to go and advised not to forsake his State University position. He chose to go.

But Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Raul Manglapus refused to initial the diplomatic passports for the Philippine team to travel to the USSR. Not one to take no for an answer, Campo sought the help of Vice President Carlos Garcia, concurrently Secretary of Foreign Affairs and an avid chess player. In Campo’s trademark style of brinksmanship, on the eve of their scheduled flight, they went to see President Ramon Magsaysay at the Palace. Already in his robe and prepared to go to bed, the President signaled his approval for their passports. The Philippine chess team joined its first Olympiad, and emerged Group C champion.

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